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Family Law

How to Ensure Your Divorce Runs as Smoothly as Possible

By | Family Law | No Comments

Divorce Process

Getting a divorce is often considered one of the most difficult times in a person’s life – but there are a few things you can do to try and make the load much lighter. The following tips aim to simplify the process as much as possible, while also attempting to alleviate the emotional burden that this time can have on all parties involved.

Consult a lawyer

The first thing you should do when getting a divorce is seek the counsel of a qualified lawyer. Even if you are on great terms with your ex-partner, the simple act of having an experienced professional guide you through the process can ensure you are better equipped to face what is down the road. Remember, getting a divorce is often considered the ‘easy’ part when it comes to the legalities – the real issues can start to surface when you begin the settlement process, and having someone who can help you navigate these things can make a profound difference.

Consider alternative methods of dispute resolution

Don’t be fooled by all the movies where an aggrieved husband or wife boldly tells their ex-spouse ‘I’ll see you in court’ – litigation is something you want to avoid as much as possible. Not only does it stretch the process out over a long period and cost all parties an extremely large amount of money, but it is likely to put you and your family under more emotional strain. Alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation, arbitration and negotiation can achieve desirable outcomes by facilitating open communication between all parties. If possible, you should aim to explore these avenues before opting for litigation as they are less time consuming, quicker and less costly.

Try to communicate openly

There’s no doubt that during a divorce process, emotions are often running high. It’s common for all parties to feel sadness, anger, anxiety and confusion and these things can influence one or both parties to act in ways that may not necessarily be in their best interests. Going into your divorce, it’s good to make a conscious effort to communicate openly and honestly about all matters. This is especially important if you are undertaking any of the alternative dispute resolution options mentioned above, as these rely on a good foundation of communication to achieve a positive result that both parties are happy with.

Keep the focus on the kids

Divorce isn’t only difficult for the two married parties – for any kids involved, it can be a tumultuous and confusing time as well. If you and your partner have children, it’s important to ensure that they feel as secure as possible throughout this process. Talking with your partner about how to approach this area is best, as it will allow you to agree on a plan that will hopefully minimise the effect it may have on your little ones.

If you are facing issues related to family law, don’t hesitate to contact our Melbourne office on 03 9993 7184 or our Sydney office on 02 9186 8135.

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Child-Support

Child Support Options

By | Family Law | No Comments

Child Support

Most parents find child support a source confusion.   Commonly they ask us if they have to go through the department to human services, child support (CSA) or not? The first point is that parents are expected to support their children to the best of their ability. Here is an overview of some child support options for you to consider:

(1) Private arrangement

Here parents agree how the child’s care costs will be paid or shared in the future.

Some couples in their property settlement might agree to put money aside for certain expenses such as private school fees or they might set up a formal trust for example for the children’s education. Other couples might agree as to which parent will be responsible for paying certain expenses. An example might health insurance premiums and medical costs, extra curricular activities or the costs such as school uniforms, excursions etc.

(2) Child Support as Assessed

If parents cannot agree then a parent might apply for child support through the Child Support Agency who may issue a child support assessment. A parent who has applied for Centrelink or means tested benefits must have a child support assessment issued.

Child support as assessed takes into account each parent’s income and the number of nights that the child is in each parent’s care which is then included in the assessment formula used by CSA. Child support is generally insufficient for extracurricular activities,  dental and medical treatments eg orthodontic treatment or private tuition/schools fees and the like. If the other parent will not pay more than child support as assessed then a change of assessment application can be made through the Child support agency.

To bring that application, the applicant needs to satisfy one or more of the 10 grounds for that change of assessment some of which include costs in spending time with  a child; if the child support assessment is unfair because of the income, earning capacity, property or financial resources of the parent or the type of education or training that the parents agreed their child would receive such as private schooling.

If the application is successful then the child support agency can increase the  assessable child support.   That mean the parent receiving child support will receive more child support on account of the higher care costs. If the decision is disputed then it can be reviewed  by the CSA Registrar. That decision can appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and/or an application made to the Federal  Circuit Court of Australia for child support orders but within the specified time limit.

Sometimes a child support order might be appropriate especially if a paying parent resides overseas and in a country which does not have reciprocal child support arrangements in place.

Child support agreements

To give greater certainty and where child support as assessed will not be sufficient eg the child attends a private school or has higher health care costs, then a child support agreement might provide more certainty.

There are two types – Binding or Limited.

A binding child support agreement enables any amount to be paid. It can include lump sum child support in the form of property to be credited fully against any child support liability. Each parent must get independent legal advice before the agreement is signed. Each solicitor must sign that certificate of advice and it should be registered with CSA. A binding child support agreement is serious transaction and need careful drafting and consideration as to what events in the future might arise and should terminate it. It can only terminate by a new binding child support agreement which expressly terminates the former or court order. As the threshold findings to support such an order are high, they should not be rushed into.

They cannot be varied – to vary it the parties must enter into a new binding child support agreement to specifically terminate it and set out the newly agreed terms. They do offer clear advantages too – such as greater certainty in terms of obligations to pay and receive certain payments, can provide for any amount of child support and they do not require a child support assessment to be issued.  They work well for many families.

A limited child support agreement offer more flexibility (but less certainty as a result). The parties do  not require legal advice before entering into it. There must be a child support assessment issued  for the registrar to accept it for registration.

It can end if both parties agree to end it in writing, after 3 years or more and a party request CSA end it and if the paying parent is paying 15% of more than the notional assessment and asks CSA to end it.

If you need child support advice, please email us [email protected] or call 03 9993 7184 (Melbourne) or 02 9186 8135 (Sydney).